The Shocking Hot-Pepper Challenge One Spice Lover Broke

Most people can't eat even one Ghost chilli pepper without crying out for a glass of water. But one man managed a whole lot more than that. In fact, he walked away with the Guinness World Record for his trouble.

To the untrained eye, a Ghost chilli pepper (also known as the Bhut Jolokia chilli pepper) looks like yet another hot pepper. However, its one million-plus Scoville Heat Units (SHU) make it incredibly next level. The ghost pepper is far hotter than most conventional peppers out there, including poblano, jalapeño, and mirasol peppers, all of which come in at a paltry 2,500 to 5,000 SHU, per Pepper Joe. Incredibly, the ultra-fiery Ghost pepper isn't even the world's hottest pepper. The Carolina Reaper has more than double the SHU, but even it pales in comparison to the Pure Capsaicin, which boasts 15 to 16 million SHU.

Still, a Ghost chilli pepper isn't for the faint of heart, which is why so few people attempt to down even one, much less 17.

All the info on the Ghost chilli pepper record

Back in November 2021, Gregory Foster endeavored to break the record for the most Ghost chilli peppers consumed in one minute. He's no stranger to the hot-and-spicy record world, as he currently holds two additional records. One of those is for the most Carolina Reaper chillies (consumed in one minute), as well as the world's fastest amount of time to eat three of those same peppers. For the record, he did the latter in 8.72 seconds, per Guinness.

Foster took the title away from the previous record holder when he managed to down 17 ghost chilli peppers in just one minute. Put together, the peppers netted 17 million SHU and weighed 110.50 grams (3.98 ounces). The honor was previously held by speed eater Mike Jack, who consumed 97 grams (3.42 ounces) in 2019.

One attribute of the Ghost pepper that likely helps out these types of competitors is that the heat it's known for doesn't actually hit a person for between 30 and 45 seconds, says Chili Pepper Madness. All that aside, the site describes its flavor as being, "an intense fruity, sweet chili flavor." Once the pepper registers with the body, though, it often causes hiccups, shortness of breath, watery eyes, and sweating — just imagine that multiplied by 17.